Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Chuseok - Friday pm: Cat cafe

[Last Wednesday - Saturday I stayed in Seoul during the Chuseok holiday, Korean Thanksgiving.  The following post is about the evening on day three of four.  Here is day one, here is day two, and here is day three - am.]

After a morning and afternoon of some really cool street art in Seoul last Friday, we picked up our seventh fellow UW TTG from the hostel and headed to a cat cafe.

According to wikipedia, the world's first cat cafe opened in 1998 in Taiwan.  The first cat cafe in Japan opened in 2005, and has more recently spread to South Korea.  It's basically just a cafe where you pay a cover fee to enter -- and be surrounded by cats.  It makes more sense that they're popular over here though, because apartments are small so not many people have pets.

Now I am a dog person 100%, but I went along for the experience. (I've heard that dog cafes exist here too, by the way.  Though I don't see myself going to another cat cafe, I would love to visit a dog cafe any day).

Before entering the cafe part, we took off our shoes and put on "slippers" (see photo below), which is normal considering the country we're in.


Then we had to disinfect our hands with sanitizer located near the door.  And then we entered.

When we entered, the counter was directly in front of us, as you must order a drink before you can sit down.  You have to order something because the entrance fee is included in the cost of the drink (which was 8,000 W at this place -- a little under $8).  In a way you're paying to rent the cats, or something like that.

Anyways, notice where the lady is making drinks in the photo, and what's sitting up on the counter.  (Three cats).  Yeeah.


Here's a view of the room we were in:


Most of the cats were "sleeping" or just lying down when we got in.


Before we could make it to a table, the lady from behind the counter came over and handed us all a laminated sheet of rules (in English and Korean) that we were to read and follow.  Such rules included: Don't touch the cats when they're sleeping. Don't use flash on your camera. Don't pull the cat's tail.  Don't poke your straws at the cats.  etc. etc.

Here's a picture of me pretending to like cats for a few seconds:


This past year I became hesitant to pet cats after my sister bought a crazy cat that bites and scratches (It has since become better behaved, but it's still crazy. And it still randomly scratches and bites).  So I didn't pet too many cats, and I was always shocked that they didn't attack me when I petted their heads.  I usually flinched and got ready to pull away my hand quickly regardless.

It was a strange place at the beginning.  I kept thinking to myself, "This is so bizarre".  These cats sit here all day and people pay to be in their presence.  The air in that cafe definitely smelled like 15 cats were running around inside all day, too.

These two little girls next to us quadrupled the entertainment value, though.  Most everyone else in the cafe were couples, so it was oh so fun to watch the reactions and smiles on these girls' faces.



Sometimes the cats jumped up on the tables:


Later on the father of the two little girls bought some cat treats (a strip of chicken) from the counter, making those two girls the most popular people in the room for the cats.  But then other people bought treats as well, which only made me wonder how the cats don't get overfed if this is what they do every day.  Or maybe they just do get overfed, end of story.

And then the night got interesting.


He-who-will-not-be-named showed his face.


Yup, there was a Voldemort cat.  A wrinkled pile of ugly, hairless, hideous evil.  

Warning! Warning!  Photo may cause unease!







View at your own discretion.  








Don't say I didn't warn you!







These two photos were taken by Phillip Balistriere:

Ugly hairless cat


Ugly hairless cat

Ugg, I was frightened that it would come over and jump up on me as another cat had done earlier.  Took me totally by surprise.  But the Voldemort cat jumping on me would have taken it to another level completely.  Don't worry, I stole a friend's seat when they got up to feed a cat, which moved me farther from Voldemort Cat.  I was safe.

As it got darker outside there got to be lots going on in our little cube of a cafe:


Then the lady from the behind the counter came out with a streamer and made the cats jump around after it.

We were the first to leave, of all the people inside, but it was time to get some dinner (and breathe fresh air).

I bought some chicken (on a stick) from a street vendor for a cheap, quick, and yummy dinner.  Then we all went to a restaurant where four of the seven ate a dinner of Samgyeopsal (what I had my first Saturday of Korean class, where you grill the meat yourself at your table.)  Samgyeopsal is really fatty pork belly meat that's really popular in Korea, but I'll probably try to avoid it the rest of the year.  My stomach does not like trying to digest fatty meats.  So I try to stick to grilled chicken if I'm going to eat a meat.

It was fun to go again though; this type of restaurant now feels more normal for me (even though I couldn't order in Korean if I wanted to!)



After dinner Reca bought a waffle from a nearby waffle stand.  I just pointed and nodded my head when she asked me something, no idea what she asked or what I was saying yes to.  The result?  A waffle topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle.  Yummm.


A happy ending to a great day!
• • •

2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing the link, Iris. I love how you wrote that you paid to sit with "cats who pretended we did not exist" -- what an accurate description! That's how I felt at the beginning when they were all sleeping.

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